Institutional Change in the Agricultural Support Sector in Nepal. Improving poor farmers' access to better crop varieties
More than 85% of people in Nepal live in rural areas, where agriculture is central to their way of life. However, most farmers do not have access to new varieties of seed, so they grow landraces or obsolete varieties that yield less, and are of lower quality, than newer ones.
Using a participatory approach, farmers were given 1 kg packets of seed of new varieties, and conducted simple field trials, growing the new varieties alongside a traditional cultivar in the area. Within three years, participating farmers were devoting, on average, half their land to new varieties. Since the initial participatory trials, farmers have become more active in selecting preferred germplasm. It is recommended that the successful district-level collaboration between governmental and non-governmental organisations be scaled up to the national level to provide farmers throughout Nepal with a choice of crop varieties.
Farmers in Nepal found that new varieties of rice and maize were of better quality and gave higher yields than traditional varieties.